The Death of Business Intelligence

BI 2013: How did the market fare?

Posted in Analytics, Business, Business Intelligence, IT, Microsoft, SAP by neilwilson1984 on January 22, 2014

Business intelligence (BI) is a term that has been on the lips of many businesses and their owners the last year, with companies looking to find solutions that make decisions that little bit easier. It has seemed that uptake of the strategy and software has been picking up pace throughout the year, but just how did 2013 treat the BI industry?

Overview

In general, the BI market last year was relatively strong without setting the heather on fire. Growth might not have reached peak levels, but they have been far better than at other times and other sectors across this year.

According to one expert, it has been very middling, with the chief executive officer saying: “I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse.”

Uptake in general has been good, but it has failed to reach the 40 per cent growth levels that were experienced back in the mid-90s. However, it is important to note that at this time the market was still new and exciting and it was being brought into firms for the first time.

On the other hand, though, the market has not hit its lowest ebb either. This was experienced in 2008, when growth levels were hammered by the worldwide recession. Companies paring back what they offered meant that growth sat at just two per cent throughout that year.

This is no bad thing though. While other sectors across the globe have seen revenues dropping and have had to make cutbacks, the fact that BI has continued to grow can only be seen as being a good thing for the sector overall, leaving good prospects on the cards for 2014 and beyond.

A tale of two sizes

In 2014, it has been about different types of BI, and growth in the two can be compared on one simple scale – size. While large companies have continued to grow throughout the year, it has been those smaller firms that have enjoyed the best levels of improvement in 2013.

Large BI providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have enjoyed a growth level that has sat at just single-digit improvements in terms of revenue, but it has been a different story further down the ladder.

According to Condi Howson at Information Week, some smaller firms have performed so strongly that many even nearly doubled their revenues throughout the year.

One such company was Tableau, which saw its revenue figures jump by 75 per cent throughout the year 2013. Other companies that enjoyed revenue leaps far in excess of larger competitors included TIBCO Spotfire (30 per cent) and QlikTech (23 per cent).

Why?

So why are smaller BI companies performing well? The answer is simple – they are much more malleable and ready to adapt.

Most small and medium firms cannot afford the very largest BI solutions, so they look towards those that can provide just what they need – self service and bespoke software that just ticks all of the right boxes.

Of course, they cannot get these from the larger companies around the globe, which means they will increasingly turn to smaller BI firms, giving these a boost throughout 2014.

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Predictive analysis spending soars on demand for business intelligence

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, IT, Microsoft, SAP by neilwilson1984 on December 12, 2013

A desire for better business intelligence is driving demand for predictive analysis software, according to a new set of figures. According to the study by Transparency Market Research, the market for predictive analytics software will be worth over $6.5 billion by 2019.

The growth is being driven by increased demand for customer intelligence, as well as fraud and security intelligence software. In addition, cloud hosted predictive analytics software solutions are seen as an emerging market that will drive growth in the near future.

Banking and finance services, insurance, government, pharmaceuticals, telecom and IT, and retail, are seen as key demand drivers during the forecast period, which will see the market more than triple in value from a base of just over $2 billion.

But the biggest growth will be in retail and manufacturing, largely due to fast growing consumer driven digital data and the subsequent need to extract strategically critical information from this data.

The study authors say a rise in incidences of frauds, payment defaults, over or under stock inventory levels, and regulations regarding governance, risk, and compliance, have pushed companies to adopt predictive analytical models.

“Demand for industry specific software solutions has caused customer intelligence, fraud and security intelligence, and campaign management to emerge as leading segments,” they say. These segments together accounted for approximately 50 per cent of market revenue in 2012.

The US and Canada will continue to lead the way as business intelligence demands drive uptake of solutions capable of analyzing big data.

“North America, which has been at the forefront of generating big data in large quantities, is expected to remain the largest market for predictiveanalytics software solutions,” the authors say.

“This is due to demand for advanced business intelligence being directly affected by need to analyze big data. Growth of predictive analytics aspect of business intelligence has seen a revival ever since big data gained popularity and has been growing exponentially.”

All this is good for companies, with competition increasing as big data vendors – SAP, SAS, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft – now entering the market for predictive analytics.

Microsoft updates Power BI for Office 365

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, Microsoft by neilwilson1984 on September 27, 2013

Microsoft has announced the addition of significant new features to the Power BI for Office 365 preview. Although not fully released, it will offer the ability to mine data using natural language through question-and-answer-type queries.

The software giant said the update includes “natural language search with Q&A”, as well as improved experiences in two preview add-ins for Excel with 3D mapping visualizations through Power Map and improved data search in Power Query.

Introduced in July and currently in preview, Power BI for Office 365 is a self-service business intelligence (BI) service delivered through Office 365 that complements Excel. It delivers data analysis and visualization capabilities, enabling workers to identify deeper business insights either on premises or within a trusted cloud environment.

With Power BI for Office 365, customers can connect to data in the cloud or extend their existing on premises data sources and systems to quickly build and deploy self-service BI solutions hosted in Microsoft’s enterprise cloud.

“We’ve had the preview open to an initial wave of customers for the past month and are encouraged by the enthusiastic response we’ve received. Today we’re excited to share some of the new features we’ve added recently to both Excel and the Power BI for Office 365 service,” Microsoft said on the TechNet Blog.

A highlight is the Q&A function, which the firm says takes enterprise data search and exploration to a “whole new level”. Microsoft said: “With Q&A, we looked at how consumers experienced Bing search and used that knowledge to enable customers to query their enterprise data and generate stunning visual results. The search experience is instantaneous and uses natural language query – Q&A interprets the question the user is asking and serves up the correct interactive chart or graph.”

Power Map, formerly GeoFlow, is another cool tool. This is an add-in for Excel which gives users the ability to plot geographic and temporal data visually on Bing Maps, analyze that data in 3D, and create interactive tours to share with others.

“This month, we made some significant updates to Power Map on the Download Center including immediate geo-coding of geospatial elements of data coupled with new region-based visualization that color-codes these geo-political areas: zip code, county, state, country/region,” Microsoft explained.

Users can also take the interactive tours designed in Power Map to create videos optimized for mobile, tablets/computer, and HD displays. These videos can be shared anywhere, including social media, PowerPoint slides, and Office 365.

Microsoft also updated Power Query, which is an add-in to Excel which helps customers easily discover, combine and transform their data. “We have improved the online search experience and expanded the number of available datasets including popular datasets from data.gov and the Windows Azure Marketplace, in addition to Wikipedia,” said the firm.

Power BI for Office 365 is designed to enable as many people as possible in an organization gain actionable insights from big data. “With Power BI we are providing access to powerful business analytics tools, built into our existing products including Excel and Office 365 to make data analysis engaging and impactful,” says Microsoft, which has yet to announce an official launch date for the set of cloud-hosted tools.

Mobile BI

Mobile apps are easy to use, easy to share and easy to discard. But does this ease of use conflict with enterprise security goals?

We live in an app world

There is no denying that we live in a world where we can get an app for almost anything, pizza delivery, movie times and even medical advice. These apps are great because we can remain relatively anonymous as we use them and if we get tired of them, we can delete them and if we lose our phones, we can re-download them. They almost never contain our private information and we feel safe using them on public wi-fi systems and on mobile networks. But what would happen if mobile applications started containing personal or privileged information? Would be be so ready to use them?

Anything you can do, I can do too

You can do almost everything on a mobile device, so the natural progression of business intelligence was mobile business intelligence. The wave of 2011 has been getting business applications, including business intelligence on to mobile devices such as iPads. These devices are great because they are pretty powerful and allow users to do cool things without being tied to their computers. So naturally, you might consider getting a mobile BI app, to extend your current in-house BI system.

But I would be cautious about doing that. Unlike desktop computers which have a tendency to be hard-to-steal or lose, mobile phones are lost at an alarming rate, 113 phones are lost every minute in the US alone. Imagine what would happen if one of those mobiles had an application on it with your firms data held in your mobile BI application’s cache? How much would your data be worth?

Browser Based BI

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for Mobile BI. I think it will revolutionize the way individuals, who are not always at their desks, like CEOs, Sales, Hospitality and Healthcare employees work. What I do think is there has to be a way to deal with these security issues. And interesting idea coming out of a software company called DSPanel is the idea of browser based mobile BI. What this means is all BI is accessible through the devices browser, by sending links to the dashboard, scorecard, or report. These items are then consumed and manipulated with the same functionality as a native app. If a mobile device is lost or stolen, the created mobile dashboard is simply deactivated by the creator and the link changed so it can still be accessed by users. This means business data remains secure and users get to enjoy the freedom mobile devices give them.

IT Zero or IT Hero

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, CIO, Crisis & Turmoil, IT, Microsoft, Office 2010, SPARQL, SQL, Value by jenniferrhowell on April 26, 2010

IT Specialist, IT Manager, CIO these titles used to strike fear in the hearts of many a CEO and CFO. Back in the good old days an IT specialist was like a God. The IT specialist would walk around with the power to transform companies by saying magical words no else could understand. It was fine that no one else understand because normal people aren’t supposed to be able to directly communicate with Gods.

For years this was how it went, IT would declare they needed something new (a piece of expensive hardware or software) and companies would blindly follow or fear being left behind.  Today, the IT officer isn’t special anymore. Today, IT within companies is seen like a Greek God, interesting historically but not relevant for bringing lasting change to the business.  Today, IT is supposed to do more with less. CFO’s demand IT cuts before any other department. IT implementation is a thing of the past; instead IT manages the current systems and adds new employees to the systems. IT managers, instead of fighting for their place within the company, are accepting the role of being outdated relics of the IT Golden Age.

Can the IT department be relevant again?

In a world where technology is everywhere and everything is technology, how can an IT officer and the IT department become relevant again? At a recent seminar by Peter Hinssen, a group of CIOs were told to ask themselves this same question. The answer it appears is surprisingly simple. IT needs to become risk takers again. When the world-wide-web was first becoming popular, IT implementers were the pioneers, guiding companies into the new world through our knowledge and the sheer force of knowing that IT was the future. The IT gurus in the company knew the Internet was going to be huge and they were sure they could make it work for their companies. Today, IT needs to take risks again. IT managers need to look at a company through fresh eyes and guide businesses into the future.

The forgotten bottom line

How can this happen if IT budgets are all about keeping current systems in place? Again, the answer is like a big, duh! The IT department needs to start thinking like a business. Look at the marketing department in your company. They have a budget to keep things like the website up to date and the marketing papers current, however, their second remit is to find ways of creating value for the business. If they seek $10,000 for a social media campaign, you better believe they’ve done their homework on the ROI this is going to bring to the bottom line of the company. The same needs to happen within the IT department. How many projects have you recommended that are going to bring a ROI within a year? In fact, in the last 5 years, how many IT projects have you recommended that will bring value to the company and did not simply support existing databases?

The Crystal Ball of the 21st century

One way of making the IT department relevant again is to sit in on each department and see what they do on a daily basis. What does Marketing, Finance, Operations and HR do and how can you help them do their job more efficiently? One really important question to ask is where are they doing the bulk of their work? As Michael Singer wrote on his blog Internet Evolution “The mobile phone and the laptop have replaced the desktop PC and cubicle as the workspace of the new millennium. So the challenge for enterprises today is to ensure that the mobile workforce is not only connected, but pretty much psychically linked.” As IT Professionals, you should be the crystal ball of the company. Where is technology moving and how can you implement this technology to give your companies the competitive advantage? Looking at the management team, are the software solutions you’ve recommended helped facilitate open communication and collaboration? Have these solutions enabled managers to make better, real time decisions? Is there a way to facilitate this decision, helping increase productivity and contribute to the bottom line of a company? Microsoft Office Suite 2010 is trying to offer this solution. Also, Business Intelligence packages like Power Pivot embedded in Excel 2010 or to get your organization on the right trace, solution that embeds advanced, unified planning and reporting capabilities right into excel. Performance Canvas Planning, offers a solution that offers complete information synthesis between departments as well. There are simple solutions that can start making your IT department relevant but they do require putting your IT department back into the corridors with the rest of the workplace.  As Mark McDonald said, “the value of IT exists through time, so any measure of IT should be shown across time”, while, it may be the case that you are no longer feared as Gods but in the 21st century you can still be relevant as productive, innovating and entrepreneurial where your input contributes to the bottom line of the company and doesn’t just diminish it.

To learn more about Office 2010 and planning functionality, go to the DSPanel website.

PerformancePoint terminated – Some more facts

Posted in Crisis & Turmoil, Microsoft by janmorath on January 23, 2009

This topic is obviously developing by the minute. A lot of sources seem to have the same information on this including Decidio (in french). So – some more facts and rumors from the cloud…

IMPORTANT: All of the below mentioned information is so far unconfirmed by Microsoft Now Confirmed by Microsoft – Official Blog 1, Blog 2 and Video

Microsoft will announce an update to its Microsoft Business Intelligence roadmap. Microsoft’s continued strategy is to deliver BI through Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) and Excel – and of course based on Microsoft SQL Server BI.

  • Microsoft states that based on customer feedback they are moving Monitoring and Analysis from Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server into Office SharePoint Server Enterprise. In mid 2009 a PerformancePoint Server 2007 service pack 3 will be released. After that point no further investment in the standalone versions of PerformancePoint Server is to be expected. Microsoft will of course continue to support the product. This effectively means the end of the Planning piece.
  • PerformancePoint Server 2007 will disappear from Microsoft price list as of April 1, 2009. Monitoring and analytics capabilities will be included in the next release of SharePoint Server and will be available to SharePoint Enterprise CAL customers. 
  • PerformancePoint Server will be available only to SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise CAL customers with Software Assurance only. 
  • Core ProClarity capabilities will migrate to SharePoint and Excel over the coming releases

UPDATE: Read more on this in the Chris Webb blog about his further thoughts on the death of PPS Planning. And from a SharePoint perspective this is of course good news! (some more SharePoint perspectives)

Job cuts and BI cuts at Microsoft – PerformancePoint terminated – Microsoft leaves the BI application market

Posted in Crisis & Turmoil, Microsoft by janmorath on January 23, 2009

Microsoft made a grand entrance to the BI market with its PerformancePoint server. Aimed primarily at the high-end market the server has been a first version of a complete BI planning application package. Together with 5000 job cuts Microsoft now terminates the PerformancePoint server. Completely scrapping the Planning, the remaining parts Monitoring and Analytics will be rolled up into the giant Office SharePoint server in its Enterprise CAL edition which is the place where Excel Server lives. Microsoft is thereby going back to its roots integrating the remains of its BI offering into the Office platform.

Where will Microsoft head with BI now?

This news leaves a lot of unanswered questions

  • Will the BI focus of the SharePoint team be sufficient for Microsoft to be a major player on the BI applications market?

  • Will current and future customers trust the Microsoft BI strategy to be a core business asset?

  • Will partners that have made huge investments in PerformancePoint be able to transition these into the new offerings?

  • Will there ever be another Microsoft BI conference?

  • Or as Chris Webb says “Perhaps the future is Gemini? Who knows…”

In these exciting times one thing remains true. The SQL Server team continues to deliver the greatest Microsoft BI product around. Which is a comfort to all of us in the Microsoft partner community!